I see content as a business asset meant to connect with and serve customers. A product in and of itself. And I plan accordingly. Happily, treating content like a product also tends to save money and engage customers, so it usually makes a pretty radical dent in Customer Acquisition Costs.

I love to see more good marketing out there, so I’ve put together some insights to help you do the same. Happy planning!

Outline of Article Sections:

  • Tips and tricks
  • Exceptions to the rule
  • How iterative planning and reactionary requests differ
  • Why data + empathy beat biases

Tips and Tricks

Here are a few strategies I use to help my clients save money:

  1. Make a plan based on data, consistency and audience insights. Seriously. I know that sounds like the most basic of ideas. But, it needs to be said.   When you develop a strategy upfront, it helps you stay on track, saves you money and appears more cohesive to your target audience. Roadmaps help too.
  2. BE your audience! Develop empathy. Do your research, take the time you need, go on an audience field trip, spend a day in the life as____… Do what it takes to get your insights correct.
  3. Create quality within your budget. If that means fewer pieces of awesome content, aim for awesome and well-placed. (Let’s face it… consumers are content fatigued. More is less these days.)
  4. Target the best channels for your audience’s natural consumption patterns. It’s usually better to have 10 of the right people see your marketing at the right time, than 10,000 of the wrong people who glance and move on.
  5. For every piece of content, create 3-4 alternate formats for different channels. You can see an example of my early white-boarding process (and predilection for color) in the picture below.

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As you can see, I maximized this one piece of content to broaden my client’s audience appeal and create content appropriate to specific (brand approved) channels. I also created a mix of visual and written based on audience needs. Do the math for your own production costs and see if this approach will save you time and $. It works out to be upwards of 75% savings for most of my clients.

Exceptions to the Rule

You may be one of those people who reads this and thinks, “That is exactly what I want to do, but I’m dealing with forces out of my control. It sounds easy, but it’s not.”

I get it, I really do.

When you have reactive clients/ bosses/product team/sales people…who NEED you to produce a piece of marketing ASAP… it can mess up a proactive plan. This is where data can carry the day for you.

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When you know your audience and are familiar with your metrics, it’s easier to spot exceptions to the rule that may succeed. It’s also easier to make a case for sticking to the plan based on facts, which tends to be a bit less offensive than telling your reactive colleague that their idea is stupid. (Yes, one time I heard a frustrated CMO tell the CEO that he was stupid. She was looking for a new job within the month. The sad thing is that when I explained her data to him, he immediately saw the pattern and agreed to stick to the plan moving forward.)

How Iterative Planning and Reactive Requests Differ

Every content plan needs regular examination points that allow you to pivot based on news or data. For example, if your company needs you to react to timely news in your industry, it may be worth going off-plan. And your understanding of how metric patterns highlight audience interests will allow you to relevantly address that unplanned content request.

But if it’s a reaction to the latest buzz-word of the week, data history will show how non-audience-centered content requests require you to divert resources away from a business goal with less than optimal customer engagement results. This costs the company money. It also costs you time. And worst of all… it may strike a discordant note with your audience.

Why Empathy + Data Beat Biases

Not everyone thinks about content as an audience-led conversation meant to develop a relationship with your consumers. For some, personal biases lead the charge on what to publish and when. Some people bias towards transactional or product centric content. Some bias towards data only. Others bias towards audience and empathy only. Some of us bias towards a particular content format or channel. And some of us are biased against other channels.

Really, all of us have bias leadings. As a marketer, our job is to dismiss our own biases and understand the audience’s bias and needs. And that takes empathy + data working hand in hand.

For example, data may tell you that your target customer prefers social, humor, and visual. But if you don’t put yourself in your target customer’s shoes (empathy), you may push a funny and slightly irreverent video via YouTube that your customer can’t watch in an open work environment — which is where they would be when searching for your product information.

There are a gazillion ways we can be tempted to go off-track and marketing is an adaptive conversation by nature. But for the most part, content doesn’t have to be a numbers game when you start with a plan backed by empathy and data insights.

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About the Author Kelli Lawless

In everything I do, I believe in growing human connection and extending a sense of belonging. I build meaningful connection by nurturing conversations that are authentic, valuable, and relevant. In some circles, what I do is called content or experiential marketing. I just call it a great way to bring people together.